The global pandemic of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has already affected our communities whether by people becoming ill by catching the virus or suffering from stress-related issues such as anxiety or other mental health problems. As business professionals, you may be worried about keeping your family healthy and safe while also making sure to provide resources for your clients to keep them informed and prevent them from panicking.
Social distancing which refers to increasing physical space between people is required now to help slow down the outbreak while protecting vulnerable people and supporting health systems. But all of this social distancing, aka physical distancing, as now called by experts, can bring unprecedented challenges to our mental well-being. It creates a concern where we have to change our normal routine and ways of interacting with other people.
And if your profession depends on a lot of human interaction and talking to your clients or colleagues often, you may experience an even higher level of anxiety and stress during this process. So, as we are being asked to self-quarantine, it is now even more important for us to pay attention to our mental health as much as our physical health.
Taking action during times of anxiety and taking control of your mental health can help you reduce stress immensely. Here are some things you can do to stay positive and healthy:
Take care of your physical health.
Make sure not to neglect your physical health and get moving by either going for a walk, doing yoga or any activity you enjoy doing. If you can’t go out to work out or to a gym, you can choose to do at-home workouts. Physical activities produce endorphin hormones that help relieve stress and calm anxiety. Also, it’s important to keep your immune system strong by eating healthy meals that include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and get a good amount of sleep every day.
Be mindful about foods & drinks
Try limiting junk food and alcohol intake during this time as the stress you’re experiencing may be triggering you to binge eat/drink. Although you might get instant relief from junk food, it’s bad for your health in the long term. Also, it’s important to monitor your caffeine intake and reduce the amount of coffee and tea you consume every day. Caffeine is known to increase anxiety and if you have issues with sleeping reducing caffeine might help as well.
Create a daily routine
Even if you’re working from home, it’s important to have a routine of activities to increase productivity. Try to eat around the same time every day and time-blocking for work tasks. You can choose to schedule client or team calls around the same time every day to facilitate your routine. Don’t forget to also make time to rest, have fun, and to have a good balance in your routines. Having a home routine where you know when you work and rest will increase your focus and reduce your stress.
Stay connected virtually
As human beings, we need social interaction and connecting to your loved ones even virtually can be great for your mental well-being during these times. Make it a habit of having phone calls or video calls with your friends or families every day if possible. Don’t forget to connect to your clients or colleagues as well and don’t be shy to talk to them about your experiences as it’s strange times for everyone and we can all benefit from sharing our thoughts and feelings with others.
Take a break from the news
Watching news constantly and getting updates about the situation from multiple channels can aggravate your anxiety. Take a break from the news and limit your intake to one or two times daily.
Seek information from resources you can trust such as WHO, Center for Disease Control and Canada Public Health websites. Also, make sure to avoid scaremongering platforms that will make you feel uncomfortable and increase your stress. If you notice your anxiety increases a lot more after watching the news, stop getting updates for a while. If there is a really important update, you will hear it from people around you anyways.
It’s easy to fall into negativity when there is so much uncertainty but negative thoughts will work against your immune system and weaken it. It’s important to remind yourself that this is a temporary situation and focus on doing what you are in control of. Focusing on what’s important in your life and practicing mindfulness can help immensely during this time. Also, try meditating if you haven’t done so already, as it also offers a number of mental health benefits.
How you think about and define the situation is vital for your mental health, so try not to use words like “being forced to stay in” which will create a sense of powerlessness. And don’t forget that you’re not alone in experiencing all of these problems and it’s now even more crucial to be mindful about how you feel and prioritize taking care of your mental health and helping your loved ones.
And remember that if you or someone you care about is experiencing a mental health crisis, please phone ‘911’, call your local mental health hotline or visit your nearest hospital emergency room.